Words each writer needs reminding of. Especially me.
“Hey, how are you?” the words drifted through her soft Ukrainian accent.
She was going to the post office for Nurse Mary. I was setting up for Lunchbox. Seeing one another’s familiar faces as we passed on the curving staircase, saying hello was only natural. But it wasn’t just hello.
“Pray for Ukraine,” were the words from her mouth. But her brown eyes held the pain, worry, and anxiety of a daughter separated from Mom, Dad, and little sister. Not knowing what to say, all that came from my mouth was “I will.”
I will pray for Ukraine. I had been.
Fear and worry accompanying my thoughts, I told another friend the situation made nervous. This friend asked why. “Because they may need airmen over there.” Wearing his Airman Battle Uniform he replied, “They might. And if so, then God glorified.” He was okay with going across the pond. I wasn’t. The prayers bells of heaven rang with my pleas that he wouldn’t have to go. Because I didn’t want him to.
Standing at the bottom of that curved staircase, my Ukrainian friend told me of the fears, fiery arrows, and cliff hanger worries that grew in her heart like kudzu climbing a mountain with ease.
“My family is there. They live on the border. If they died, I would die.
The US has announced they will not send troops.
They are not going to help.”
Ice-picks of pain stabbed at my heart at the thought of loosing family. My hippie mom, country dad, and nine siblings being gone? The monster question of, “God, would you really let that happen?” made its way to my mind. That monster has confronted her. That fear that it may be safer for her stay in the states than to travel home after the semester has caused her to question going home to her family.
Along with pricks of pain in my heart, there was also a glad-guilt. The US will not send troops. My friend won’t be going. At least, not now. But that feeling of relief sank deep in my gut. A heavy relief. An awkward comfort. I felt guilty.
One friend’s family lives in need of help and protection.
One friend could of been part of that help and protection.
He ran into the house. His bright smile gave away his excitement. His hands were full. Full of Narcissus. But that is not what he calls them. To him, 9 year-old Jesse, these yellow, circular flowers whose blooms droop down as if they are looking at the ground, are called buttercups. He does not know that they are named after a young man who thought himself quit beautiful and fell in love with his own reflection. Or that myth tells the young man was transformed into this flower with its head ever facing downward, as if searching for a glimpse of itself in a nearby Spring rain puddle.
These blooms that he ever so carefully and places in jars, glass bottles, and Dollar Tree vases all throughout his house, are the first signs of spring. They have come through the hard, red Georgia clay that we call soil. And they bloom. Their tall stems, sometimes reaching 12 inches tall, act as fairy wands bidding the early evening darkness to give way to more sun. Their frail sunshine-colored petals withstand the last chills of winter. They stand happily in their jars, vases, and vintage coke bottles on the kitchen table.
They decide to make their appearance when all who hold summer in the south near and dear to their hearts think winter is never going to end. They begin telling their story during the season of Lent: forty days before Easter set aside to fast and remember the suffering of Christ. Christ suffered through every tair and trip, every broken heart and beaten body, every collapsed family and crying eye. And then He died. But because of the power of His Father, Creator of the universe, three days later, Christ was brought back to life.
“For He died for us to give us life
And to give us hope He rose” – Hope’s Song
“An Excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.”
The hot water is running and Mommy’s hand are red from the dishwater. As I put away the leftovers from supper, my three little sisters are drying and putting away the clean dishes that have passed through Mommy magic, dishing-washing hands. Our redneck amp sits in the corner of the kitchen with my camo, Otterbox clad iPhone hooked up to it. At times, as soft piano music flows out, we pretend waltz across the 30 year-old linoleum floor. Or you can catch us all singing along with Jason Aldean. He kind of sums up our life, believe it or not.
But that’s not what has us groovin’ and hip-bumping tonight.
With the bouncing beat starting, we all join Katy as she starts,
“I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
scared to rock the boat and make a mess
so I sit quietly, agreed politely…”
You might be thinking:
“What! those girls are listening to and singing Katy Perry?”
Yeah, we do. Admit it, you probably like some stuff like that, too.
We listen to Katy Perry, the Piano Guys, One Republic, Rodney Atkins, Philip Philips, Jason Aldean. Who wouldn’t? When we listen to them, we sing along with them, dance, (even though some of us are white) we swat our dish towels at one another. We sing into one another’s eyes and then burst out in giggles. We can do all of this because of the women whose hands are in dirty dish water.
Mommy-“What’s the name of that guy who sings that song about Amarillo?”
“Yeah! It reminds me of Daddy. I love that song.”
She supports and loves my Daddy, her husband, like no wife I know. She is a woman who has done everything in life with excellence. She has never been satisfied with where she stands in her faith. As she sits in the rocking chair each morning with her Bible in her lap, she soaks up the daily bread that her Heavenly Father offers her. Because she stands in boots made out of the peace of the gospel, she has made her home a place of freedom.
She is a wife of excellence who is worth far more than precious jewels.
Because of who she is in Christ, because she has allowed herself to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and because she is a daughter of the King, she stands in confidence. With that confidence, as she washes red plates and white bowls with blue flowers on them that we call our “happy bowls”, she has given her children the freedom to dance to Katy Perry around the island. But we know that Katy isn’t exactly a role model. We know we can dance to her music, but that the real-deal guidance for life-junk comes from our Heavenly Father who is also our Mommy’s Heavenly Father. And that is because she has taught us a lesson worth more precious jewels: That a real woman is one whose confidence comes from her Heavenly Father.
She teaches us lessons everyday. She has been teaching me everyday of my life, and not just phonics and devision. I think I don’t realize how much she has taught me. But I hope I will continue to realize it bit by bit so that I might share it with you. My Mommy with my little brother, Jesse.
Whitney-Faith and I walked outside. The cool Pennsylvania fall air wrapped itself around us. We were at Mr. Martin’s and the swing was in the yard. This swing was made out of a smooth board with rope tied to a tree limb that seemed as though it were 50 ft. in the air. We would swing for what seemed like hours. But today we had a new idea. And it made us laugh.
“I’ll push you and then it will be my turn,” I told me little sister.
“Okay!” was her reply. She jumped on the swing. Her feet didn’t even drag the dirt that was beneath them.
We swung. We waited. When would a car come by? Or better yet, when would a horse and buggy come by? We were vacationing at a friend’s house in Amish country.
I pushed her and she pumped her legs. That swing went so high. I always thought that one day I would swing so high, I would fly right off the seat. I never did. But that day, we did something that we thought was just crazy.
The air was clear and the only thing in front of us was a corn field and a two lane road. And no cars. Where were the cars?
Finally, a black sedan came traveling down the black asphalt. Giggles rushed into our throats. She pumped. I pushed. Our hands shot up above our heads as we yelled,
“HELLOO! HEY! HOW ARE YA?” with laughter erupting between each syllable. We did it. We yelled at someone going down the road that we didn’t know. And we received a smile in return.
I was young. She was younger. We loved that swing. It would carry you up and away, and then bring right back to safety. Those people going down the road had no idea who we were.
We didn’t care.
We just wanted to laugh, so we did something that in our little homeschooler minds, was crazy.
We just wanted to be silly, so we took advantage of our location and opportunity and yelled hello to strangers.
I was young. She was younger. We did something that made us laugh. It puzzled those who passed by. Hopefully it made some laugh. Maybe later we were the joke of the neighborhood.
We didn’t care.
We were free.
We were safe.
We hadn’t a care in the world to keep us from smiling and saying hello to people we thought needed to be spoken to.
Because they were people.
Whitney-Faith, me, and our Aunt Jenny-Thanksgiving 2013
A place of comfort. We will find it if we take the time to trust our instincts and allow ourselves to rest in the places we often find ourselves. If we trust those places.
His doors are heavy from wear. His metal armor says “Made in America and proud of it.” He is nearly as old as me. This “he” I speak of was given to me by my Mommy and Daddy. His name is Chevrolet Silverado. And I call him my honey. His tires that are nearly warn out speak of where he is from. The country. A long driveway. Home. They tell of the service that he provides and the help that he offers. Mud from the pasture decorates the sides and at times and in certain places, blends in with the gold that is his coloring. You might find me silly. Writing about a truck. Giving it a name of endearment.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted a truck. My Daddy drove one. Always. My sisters, whom I admire, wanted one. I learned how to drive in a 15-passenger, black, Ford, E350. Big has always been standard around here. Big has always been safe. And that is what my honey is.
On the rides home from school, with the heater blowing on my boots, I felt safe in my pick-up. As I sit on the worn, leather seat and look in the rearview mirror and see the truck bed, I smile. After a bad day, he doesn’t ask questions. The radio blares. He doesn’t betray my trust. Tells no one of my tears. Or of my immature giggles. He just keeps going.
Solace- a place of comfort during trouble.
God gave me this truck, this bucket of bolts that I call my honey. And with it, solace. He knew I would need it. Before I ever would have. Thankfulness. My oozes with it.